Frequently Asked Questions About Texas Vital Statistics Indexes


What records are available in the Genealogy Collection?

The Genealogy Collection has indexes to some Texas births, deaths, marriages and divorces but it does not have the actual certificates.

What information will I find in an index?

Entries are arranged alphabetically by name and provide the date of the event, the county in which the event occurred, and often the certificate file number.

What birth indexes are available in the Genealogy Collection?

The collection includes birth indexes from 1903 through the most recent year available. There are also some delayed birth indexes that include births as early as 1880. There is one cumulative index for the years 1903 through 1909. Beginning with 1910, each year is indexed separately.

Why can't I find a birth record listed?

Births in Texas were not recorded at the state level until the establishment of the State Department of Public Health and Vital Statistics in 1903. It was as late as the 1930s before births were consistently recorded. The notation "Inf of", meaning "infant of", may appear instead of a first name in the birth indexes.

What about birth records prior to 1903?

If births were recorded before 1903, they were recorded in the county clerk's office in the county of birth. Many people whose births were not officially recorded at the time had records established later in life. These records are called delayed certificates and the Genealogy Collection has indexes to a small portion of them. The indexes are arranged alphabetically and include births from as early as 1880 and as late as 1975. The Vital Statistics Unit and the county clerk's office should be contacted directly for other possible delayed records.

What death indexes are available in the Genealogy Collection?

The collection includes death indexes from 1903 through the most recent year available. There is one cumulative index for the years 1903 through 1940, one index for 1941 through 1945, and one index for 1946 through 1955. Beginning with 1956, each year is indexed separately.

Why can't I find a death record listed?

Deaths in Texas were not recorded at the state level until the establishment of the State Department of Public Health and Vital Statistics in 1903. It was as late as the 1930s before deaths were consistently recorded. In the case of the death of an infant, the notation "Inf of", meaning "infant of", sometimes appears instead of a first name in the death indexes. Women are sometimes listed under their husband's first name.

What about death records prior to 1903?

If deaths were recorded before 1903, they were recorded in the county clerk's office in the county in which the death occurred.

What marriage indexes are available in the Genealogy Collection?

The collection includes marriage indexes from 1966 through the most recent year available. Each year is indexed separately.

Why can't I find a marriage record listed?

Marriages in Texas were not recorded at the state level until 1966. Records of marriages before 1966 are located in the county clerk's office in the county in which the marriage occurred.

What divorce indexes are available in the Genealogy Collection?

The collection includes divorce indexes from 1968 through the most recent year available. There is one cumulative index for the years 1968 through 1972. Beginning with 1973, each year is indexed separately. 

Why can't I find a divorce record listed?

Divorces in Texas were not recorded at the state level until 1968. Records of divorces before 1968 are located in the district clerk's office in the county where the divorce was filed.

How do I get a copy of the actual certificate?

For complete and up-to-date information on obtaining birth and death certificates, contact the Department of State Health Services, Vital Statistics Unit, PO Box 12040, Austin, Texas 78711-2040; 512-458-7111 or 888-963-7111 (toll-free). You may also visit their office at 1100 West 49th Street or their Web site at:
   http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/vs/reqproc/certified_copy.shtm

Certified copies of marriage licenses are only available from the County Clerk of the county in which the event occurred.

Certified copies of divorce decrees are only available from the District Clerk of the county in which the event occurred.

Addresses and telephone numbers for both County and District Clerks are available at:
   http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/vs/field/localremotedistrict.shtm

May I request that you search for me?

Although we do not undertake genealogical research or verification, we are happy to search for specific names (no surname requests) in our Texas vital statistics indexes. Due to the high volume of requests, we must limit each request to five specific searches. Once we have responded to your request, you are welcome to submit another.

Requests may be submitted by email to geninfo@tsl.texas.gov or by mail to:

Texas State Library and Archives Commission
Archives and Information Services Division
PO Box 12927
Austin, Texas 78711-2927

What information must I provide?

Your request must include the following information:

First and last name of the individual
Type of record (birth, death, marriage, divorce)
Specific years you wish to have searched (or, in the case of cumulative indexes, the range of years)

If known, the following facts may help us with your request:

City or county where the event occurred or the person resided
For birth records, names of mother and father
For death records, name of husband
For marriage or divorce records, name of spouse

Requests to search for name variations, including "Inf. of" or a woman listed by her husband's name, are counted as separate searches toward our limit of five. Requests that fall outside of our search limit or scope will be returned for clarification.

Anything else I should know?

This information provides an introduction only to the vital statistics indexes held in the Genealogy Collection. Other resources for vital records may be available. Please remember there are many variables that affect vital records research, including name variations, recording errors and inconsistencies, and record availability.

It is best to conduct your research in person. If you are unable to do so, you may borrow microform copies of the indexes through interlibrary loan. Contact your local library for more information about the interlibrary loan program.

You may also consider hiring a private researcher for professional assistance with your search: http://www.tsl.texas.gov/arc/researchers.html

Please visit the Archives and Information Services Division's Genealogy Resources page at:  http://www.tsl.texas.gov/arc/genfirst.html

Page last modified: November 12, 2013